It’s an exciting time to be a Utah brewer. “Utah’s brewing some crazy good beers right now,” said Chris Haas, head brewer at Desert Edge Brewery in Trolley Square.
Starting at the brewery in 1999 after a drive across the country looking for breweries led him to Utah, Haas has been given free reign at the brewery to brew any beer he wants. The brewery started in 1995, with the original space being a bar since 1972. Currently it’s a neighborhood pub serving retail beer and producing 1,100 barrels annually.
“We do traditional beer and try to expand the horizons within the traditional beer market,” Haas explained.
“We want to push the boundaries of what beer is.”
Desert Edge’s regular beers include: Utah Pale Ale, Pub Pilsner, Happy Valley Hefeweizen and Latter Day Stout. There are over 30 additional beers rotated throughout the year, including five seasonals. The current seasonal beers are Road Rage Rye, All The Way Alt – a German-style beer meaning “old”, Powder Shot Porter, and Backcountry Cream Ale.
Desert Edge brews can also be found at Stella Grill, Red Butte Café, Martine and several other bars around town.
“We choose to have a small distribution and we choose our partners very carefully,” Haas said. “We choose local-owned small businesses because that’s what we are. I don’t deliver beer to places that I can’t ride my bike to.”
Haas’s inspiration comes in all manner of ways. Drinking beer itself is often his muse, as well as getting new hops and wanting to try new styles of beer. One to two new beers come out every year and an extra pale ale, that happens to be gluten-free, will come out in time for summer. The Radius brew, a fresh wet hops beer, will come out in September. The wild hops are from Utah and the ingredients come from 100 miles of Salt Lake City, hence the “Radius” moniker.
Desert Edge is doing great things within the Salt Lake craft brew market and keeping things local. Haas and the other brewer, Michael Fuller, are trying to be creative and do beers that most people don’t know about. Their methods are a bit untraditional, as well. Whenever a new yeast strain arrives at the brewery, they play music for the yeast.
“It’s usually something sexy, like Barry White,” Haas said. “The yeast reproduces while it’s brewing, so we go for Barry White.”
And delicious, local beer is born.